From Contact to Connection: The Power of Christian Community

Hebrews 10
  /  March 10, 2024
Speaker: John Parker

We’re inviting you as we look this morning into God’s word to Hebrews chapter 10. We’re continuing this one another series. And this morning, we’re focused on stirring up one another. We got too many pot stirrers in our world. You know, there’s some people that just live to stir up something, trouble, primarily.

And, they love poking sticks in hornet’s nest, you know, and and running to see what happens. But this is not what this is addressing. It’s not what it’s encouraging. It’s encouraging us to cheer on, to support. And the word in the the old King James version is provoke one another.

Hebrews chapter 10 and beginning to read there at verse 24. And let us consider one another. That’s the first thing we must do. We must consider one another. That is to just stop and think about each other.

The word considers more than just a surface thought. It’s deep consideration. It’s deep contemplation about it. 2, stir up or provoke unto love and to good works one another, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching. And I should have read verse 23, which really sets the the scene for that.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that is promised. That ties in with that last statement, so much the more as you see the day approaching. This is time, my friend, for us to encourage one another. We’re coming down to the finish line, to the buzzer, so it’s time for us to encourage one another. It’s interesting to me that Paul often used sports analogies in his writings or his letters, his his preaching to illustrate various facets of the Christian life.

He talks about running races, about marathons, about boxing competitions, about competitive, awards or prizes that come for the winners. And we get it as he talks about those things because we’re familiar with that. One thing all sports competitions have in common, and that is they need people cheering on the competitors. They need pep rallies. Actually, my mom and dad probably don’t know this, but, I led some pep rallies when I was a junior high schooler in public school.

At Smyrna, Ashley, So good to have a Harkers Island girl here with us this morning. Ashley is Eunice’s dearest friend in the whole world, and and her mom and I are about the same age. But, yeah, I I I got involved in some of that. Loved it. Loved it.

I guess it was my start to what I’m doing this morning. Athletes just do better when there are people there are fans cheering them on. I believe God’s word is calling us as his church to be fans of one another, supporters, cheers for one another. And the writer of he writer of Hebrews, who is likely Paul, wrote in chapter 12, where I just referred a few moments ago following the song we sing. Therefore, we also are compassed about with a great cloud great roll call of the faithful, a face hall of fame, you might call them, those who persevered in difficult, dark trying circumstances and endured.

And then he says, keeping our eyes on Jesus, let us run the race and with endurance that is set before us looking unto Jesus who is the author, the the starter, and the finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was before him, and here we are singing about it this morning, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God, the father, at the throne of God. We have a great host of unseen cheerleaders this morning. I could not help as I was preparing to preach this morning to think about some of heaven’s cheerleaders that are looking down on us here assembled this Sunday morning. The saints of God that have been part of our church family, our own family members and loved ones, saints that have played roles in our lives and other places and other times. There is a great host of them this morning, heaven’s cheerleaders.

You know, it was enlightening for me as a dad and as a pastor of a bunch of kids in the Eastleigh Bible Methodist Church Back in the day when our kids were attending, a Christian school locally, before the church had a school, That school was a a member of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools. And because of that, they were involved in sports competitions among other Christian schools in the state of South Carolina. I saw a very powerful and very beneficial impact on my own kids and their involvement in that, learning to to play as a team, to work together as a team, to think as a team, sharing the scoring opportunities, learning to lose graciously, Graciously? If you’re a parent here today or a grandparent and your kids are involved in competition, for God’s sake, be gracious in losing. Poor kids have to deal with crazy parents and grandparents these days because they don’t know how to lose and then learning to win graciously.

And we did win. If you don’t believe it, just talk to Scott Hester and I sometime. We’ll tell you all about it. Our daughters were some of the top scores in the state of South Carolina, in their competitions in those days. One thing I did learn powerfully though over and over and over, our kids played better when we were on the sidelines cheering them and supporting and clapping and yelling.

And sometimes, Scott and I did too much of that. We actually got in trouble a time or two because we were a little too noisy. But we see far too much of the negative side of of that these days. I just am appalled, truthfully, folks. I am totally appalled at what you see your parents not knowing how to behave themselves and, berating their their children that miss a scoring opportunity or strike out or whatever.

You know, that’s well, I better not say that word. That’s not a nice word to say in church, but that’s that’s belittling. And, that’s belittling and embarrassing truthfully and then fights and all the rest of it. God’s word is calling us, let’s get to the point, to be cheerleaders, good cheerleaders of one another, to spur one another on. We do better.

We do better when we’re being cheered on, when we’re being stirred up by one another. Amen? And that can only only be done in togetherness. It can only be done in physical, visible togetherness, not virtual or in spirit. It requires a team mentality.

It requires family mindedness. I love that about our church. There’s a family mindedness here. We see one another as a family. It requires self sacrificing just as it required for us parents to be there to cheer our kids, put other things on hold.

It requires cost and time and energy, physical, emotional energy. But God’s word is clear. It is as clear as it can be on this point. Do not forsake the coming together of yourselves to spur one another on to love and good works, to encourage one another. And so much the more, the closer you get to the buzzer.

That’s John Parker version. And folks, I don’t know how you feel about it this morning, but I think we’re close to the buzzer, the trumpet, as you see the day approaching. Well, the the the new testament is very clear about what it means to care for each other, and we’ve been dealing with this. Let me let’s just do a little short review here. 1st John 411.

Be beloved, if god so loved us, we should love one another. Amen? It means loving one another. 1st Peter chapter 4 verse 10. As each of us have received the gifts, use those gifts to serve one another.

It means serving one another, not just loving one another, but serving one another. And we’re doing that as a church’s good stewards of God’s grace. Ephesians 519, speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and and making melody in your hearts to the Lord. We’ve been doing that here this morning as a congregation. Don’t it feel good when we sing together?

Don’t it just kinda lift your spirits? You may not be a singer. Yeah. You may not you may be like pastor. You don’t wanna sing specials, but you love it when you can just sing along with God’s people and enjoy the lift of that spirit.

That’s exactly what this is talking about here. Romans 15 and 14, you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge. Why? To instruct one another. And we’ve talked about that, admonishing and and encouraging one another.

1st Peter 49, verse 9, showing hospitality to one another. Are we doing that? How well are we doing that? You know, there was a day when it was much more common than it is today. But hospitality is a necessary part of this encouraging one another.

And if you can’t have folks at your house for a meal or do something, meet them at McDonald’s after church on Wednesday night or or, during the week for a coffee or do whatever you need to do. Get together to encourage one another. And what are the goals of that? Going back to the Hebrew writer and more of the context of our focus this morning, Hebrews chapter 3 puts the emphasis on the negative. But it’s important.

The goal of this aspect of what another ministry is that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The fact is every single one of us are battling Satan’s temptations and allurements to draw us into sin, or this culture, this world that would press us into its mold would harden us to the realities of sin and cause us to become more accommodating of sin. In our culture, in our families, in our own personal lives. And this coming together with God’s people helps us to prevent the hardening of our hearts to sin. There is a positive aspect even in our verses here and that is that we stir one another up to love and good works that we encourage one another, not only to keep us from sin, but to encourage us to do right.

So let’s take a little deeper lot, dive into the word of god here in the context of Hebrews 10 and what it’s challenging us to do as we are challenged to provoke one another, stir one another up to love and good works. A key here is understanding this word that in the King James is translated provoke and some of the other versions stir up, whatever it is. Here is the original word. The word means, and I’m not gonna give you the Greek because I might mispronounce it. You wouldn’t know the difference if I did.

So I’m just gonna tell you, I’ve got it written here if you wanna see it afterwards. Afterwards. But the word is incitement to good. But it comes from a word which also has as its root to sharpen alongside. Well, that’s interesting me to me because pastor’s first message in this series, and that was on February 4th when we started this series, was sharpening one another.

And his text was in Proverbs chapter 27 verse 17. As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. And he talked about how that is the goal of our one another mentality in the church. You know what? Think about this a second with me this morning.

Iron cannot sharpen iron. It can’t touch. Right? For iron to sharpen iron, there has to be contact. And the word of God is saying that is the way we sharpen one another.

So what is that saying to us? We need to be in contact. Amen? Amen. The one another is not just in this, euphoric identification.

It’s in physical presence. Amen? In the house of God. So that is why the Hebrew writer says, don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together for you are being called to sharpen one another, and that only happens when you are in contact with one another. I, I said to a a dear friend of mine this week, we’re talking about marriage and the challenges of marriage.

And I said to my dear friend, you know, somebody has said, and I believe it’s very true, that god didn’t design marriage just to make us happy. God designed marriage to make us holy. What do you mean by that? Well, to knock the rough edges off of you. Amen?

And, pastor shouldn’t have any. He’s been married 18 years. He doesn’t have any hair left, but there may be some rough edges. Tanya, work on those. Truth is relationships, when we’re in contact with one another, that’s where the rub comes.

That’s where the the issues rise. And all of a sudden, what? It’s just me. You know? I’m sorry.

That’s just who I am. Well, I’m sorry. Who you am is not acceptable. You need to change. Right?

Remember when Kathy told me that? Not quite like that. She probably wrote me a note, wrote me a letter or what’s so I dreaded getting those letters. Hate to even remind her about that because she may write me one. No.

Truth is proximity, togetherness causes us to be aware of the issues, not just their issues, but our issues, my issues. Sharpening happens in contact. And the etymology of this word provoke, means to sharpen alongside. And that’s why we’re called so specifically here to get together, to be together. Don’t be like some people as the manner of some is.

And so much the more as you realize how close you are to facing God and his judgment. We’re inspired to love in good works and sharpen spiritually when we come together. A pet peeve and more and more and more a pet peeve of mine, pastor. I’m sorry. I really apologize to all the live stream people out there this morning.

But virtual assembling leaves so much to be desired. Virtual relationships. I’m telling you folks, what’s happening in our culture, COVID had a tremendous impact on this, separating students in classrooms and teachers from students and employees from employers and and the disconnection that has happened where everything’s virtual. Until now, you have boyfriends and girlfriends sitting across the table from each other in a restaurant texting each other or sitting in the same room texting each other. It’s virtual.

And now with all the AI stuff, my it’s frightening to think about where that can go. Folks, we need interpersonal relationships that have physical proximity. Amen? Okay, Parker. Move on.

Obedience and submission to God’s word absolutely, positively, requires us to get together as the people of God if we can. Thank God for live streaming for those who can. Amen? And God bless you people that are watching this morning. We love you.

I really do. The why and the how of our call to stir one another is very definitely found in in the context here. So let’s go back. Do you have a bible where you can open it up and look at this or an app on your phone? I just wanna call your attention to some things.

And if you’re able to highlight, you may wanna go back and look at these. So we look at starting at verse 21, We our focus is 24, 25, but let’s go back to verse 21. Having an high priest over the house of God. Is he talking about a building there? No.

He’s talking about the people of God. Everything God does, he does in focus to his people. And folks, we have we sang about him this morning. We have the most wonderful high priest. Amen?

Jesus Christ, the righteous, who took our sins, bore the burden, paid the penalty, died the death, rose again, and is seated at the right hand of God the father, making intercession for us this morning. Not just individually, but collectively. We have an high priest over the house of god. Let us draw near with true of with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Verse 23.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that promised. And let us consider one another to provoke on the love and the good And let us consider one another to provoke on the love and the good works, not forsaking the the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is and but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching. 4, if you sin willfully after that we’ve received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for a judgment, fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despise Moses’ law died without mercy under 2 or 3 witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be taught worthy who had trodden underfoot the son of God and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing and done despite into the spirit of grace.

For you know him, we know him that has said, vengeance belongs to me. I will recompense, says the lord. And again, the lord will judge his people. It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god. That’s the context.

I wanted to just read it in its entirety. Let’s work our way back through it. And one of the key ways to understand passages is to go from the conclusion back to the the, proposition. So we start at the verse 31. It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god.

Why should we assemble ourselves? Why should we be stirring one another up? Why should we be encouraging one another? Because it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Folks, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the judgment of men.

But my dear friends, we are all gonna stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Think about that this morning. The Lord verse 30. The Lord shall judge his people. Our God’s gonna hold us accountable for the opportunities.

Doors of this church are unlocked and the heater, air conditionings turn on and the lights are on and the musicians gather and the pastor prepares a message. We’re gonna give account for those opportunities. We’re gonna be held accountable. The Lord will judge his people. Verse 28 and 29, he refers to Moses and how they they were held accountable then.

And if god held his people accountable in the old testament, how much more will he hold us accountable if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth? That verse can that can that can cause some people some alarm. Therefore, it sounds like once you have received grace, you can no longer get grace. But what he’s simply saying is the grace you received yesterday does not cover the sins of today or tomorrow. Unconfessed, unrepented sin is unforgiven sin.

Amen? We have people preaching in our pulpits of this of this land that when you come to salvation, your past sins are forgiven, your present sins are forgiven, And your future sins are forgiven. So you can just go right on sinning like you never stopped. That’s not what the Bible teaches, friends. There remains no more sacrifice for sin.

It’s important that you come to the house of God, that you allow the word of God to stir you up and challenge you so that it can convict you in any area of your life you become careless or sin has crept in. For if you sin willfully after you’ve received the knowledge of the truth, you’re not covered. And it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. There is only verse 27, a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. If we willfully go back to sin, the atoning sacrifice of God and his grace does not cover us.

If you don’t hear anything else the preacher says this morning, remember that one. Verse 25, we’re working our bay way back up. The day of judgment is approaching. As as you see the day approaching, the buzzer or the trumpet could sound at any moment. My friends, this is no time to play around.

Amen? When you look at what’s happening in the Middle East and Israel, what’s happening all across the world, all of the signs and prophecies of the end times are being fulfilled before our very eyes. This is no time to mess around, folks. The buzzer could sound. Let us consider one another, therefore, because this is true, provoking one another, stirring up one another, encouraging one another.

Do you appreciate the encouragements, the affirmations of fellow believers? Does it help you to press on, to hold on, to climb a little higher, to dig a little deeper in God’s love? Yes, my friends. We do. Remind yourselves.

Consider consider your own self and realize it helps me when people encourage me. So it’s my responsibility to be an encourager. Amen? Do for others as you would have them do for you. Right?

Ain’t that the golden rule? Not just don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you. No. It’s a positive rule. Do unto others what you would like for them to do unto you.

If you want people to encourage you, be an encourager. And then he goes on to tell us that we have a high priest. Hallelujah. We have everything we need. Let us draw near with a true heart and full assurance.

Hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering for he is faithful that has promised us. My dear friends, there is absolutely nothing lacking in the plan of redemption. It’s complete. We have all we need to live victoriously and to make it to heaven. There’s not a reason in the world that one soul in this building would have to miss heaven.

They can’t know their sins are forgiven. They can’t know that all is well with their soul. So, my friends, let’s focus for just a moment on what are the causes of failure to provoke and to stir one another up. Number 1, failure to understand and appreciate the bonding of common faith. And I’ve about worn that one out already.

But when we fail to understand and appreciate how important what we are doing right here this Sunday morning inside this building in our singing, in our praying, in our worshiping together, when we fail to understand the importance and significance of the bonding of our common faith, my friends, that results in a sense of isolation, a lack of accountability, and a disconnectedness that makes it very easy for us to be discouraged spiritually and also to slip back into sin. And the devil loves it. Paul Harvey one time gave a speech, if I were the devil, what he would do. And I gave that speech, I wanna say, back in the 19 seventies. If you read it, the devil must have heard the speech because he’s doing exactly what Paul Harvey said he would do if he were the devil.

And it’s working in our world, much to our chagrin. But friends, if I were the devil, I would do everything in my power to keep you from getting to church Because church will have an uplifting, encouraging, edifying, strengthening, spiritually nurturing effect on your life. And the failure to understand that results in this disconnectedness, rabid individualism. Well, you know, I I I have my own faith. I’m I’m a very spiritual person.

I’m just not religious. Means I don’t go to church, I think, is what it means. Spiritual, not religious. Yeah, I really love my wife. I just don’t stay with her, you know?

I stay with a girl down the street. Really? Folks, failure to understand this will destroy you spiritually. Everything you read in the context of this passage is plural. Let us.

Let us. Let us. Let us. You understand the the the pronoun us? That’s more than one person.

Right? Let us. And then it refers to our bodies, our hearts, our faith, not my. Our. And this is so important to Jesus when he taught us how to pray, taught us to pray our father.

Amen? Folks, we are a family. We are a unit and failure to understand that and the need and importance of us being together and of encouraging one another results in disconnectedness. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes.

Yes. You are. God was pretty strong with Cain about that, wasn’t he? Secondly, failure to stir up one another and understand the importance of it will result in failure to be together, failure to assemble. Remember, the the word here comes from this sharpening one another as in contact.

And what happens when that doesn’t happen in your life is there’s a feeling I’m not needed. You know, they don’t really need me at the church. They need the preacher. They need brother David at the organ, Susan at the piano. They need they need them, but they don’t need me.

I don’t need they need them, but they don’t need me. I don’t do anything. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a role. I’m not important to the church.

That is a lie from hell. You are important to the church. There is not a single soul in this building today that is not vitally important to the church, to God’s people, to God’s kingdom, to God’s family. You are part of the family of God. Amen?

You are part of the fold, the flock. And remember what Jesus said when there was 909, we all pretty happy when we got 99. But one was missing. What does the shepherd do? He leaves the 99 and he goes looking for the one that is missing.

Folks, that’s how important you are. That’s how important you are. Those are lies of Satan. God’s word is very clear about how important you are. Paul writing to the Corinthian church in first Corinthians 12 14 to 27.

I’ll just summarize it here. The body has many different parts not just one. If the foot says I’m not part of the of the body because I’m not the hand. And the hand you know, everybody sees the hand. That does not make it any less a part of the body.

If the ear says, I’m not part of the body because I’m not an eye, would that make it any less part of the body? He said, how are you gonna hear if you don’t have a ear? Or smell if you don’t have a nose? And then he goes on to talk about the comely and less comely parts of of our body. He said, you cover up the less comely.

I guess if that were true for some of us, we’d put a bag over our heads. Right? But those are important parts that are maybe somebody sitting here this morning saying, well, preacher. I’m just a kneecap. Uh-huh.

They don’t need me. You ever broke your kneecap? Your knee ever go out? It doesn’t matter how pretty your face is. Right?

I don’t care what you are in the body of Christ. You are important. You’re valuable. You’re needed. Amen?

We need you. And all of us together are Christ’s body, verse 27 of that passage. And each of you has a part in it. We need each other. We function as a body.

None of us can say, I’m okay. You’re okay. The body doesn’t need me. I can neglect assembling, and it just gets easier and easier and easier and easier. And, unfortunately, the church becomes an enabler to the dysfunctional who have disconnected.

Folks, I I don’t wanna be hard. I don’t wanna be insensitive. I don’t want to be uncaring about people who are not able to come because there’s some dear saints of God that are probably watching me right now. I love you. But folks, God knows if it’s a if you’re able.

God knows if you can. And God knows how much you need the body of Christ and more how much we need you, Amen? To stir up one another, encourage one another. And then lastly, on my short list of causes of failure to stir up one another simply failure to take seriously the means of grace. Assembling for the purpose of worship of stirring up one another spiritually is one of the most critical of the means of grace God’s word, prayer, assembling with God’s people, fasting, the Lord’s Supper, means of grace.

Do we take them seriously? Well, we talk about reading your Bible and pray And we need to talk about being here when the doors are open, assembling together. Therefore, strengthen the hands which hang down, that Hebrews 12 passage said, and make straight pass for your feet so that what is lame may not be turned out of the way, but rather let it be healed. Follow peace. Pursue peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the lord.

Lest looking diligently, looking carefully, lest anyone fall short of the grace of God. I just told you a moment ago. God has provided every possible incentive and means to help you get to heaven, but you can fall short. You can fail of the means of grace and fall short and misheaven, if you choose. And then he goes on to talk about lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many become defiled.

You know what happens when we don’t realize the importance of this encouragement and stirring up of one another? We tend to bit to get critical. As long as we’re helping one another, encouraging one another, it helps us love one another. It helps us to be encouragers, not critics. Amen?

Yes. And we start not helping one another. It’s very easy for us to become critical and cynical and bitter. Walk in the council of the ungodly. Sit in the seat of the scornful.

Become cynical and bitter. Folks, what pastor and I are trying to preach to you in this series of messages is that God has every means of grace to get you through to help you. But it’s for all of us collectively to get us to heaven together. Amen? As the people of god, as the family of god.

And there’s not a one of us that didn’t have a role in that. I’ve, stayed with mom and daddy living with them these days. We’ve had some conversations and, some reminiscing and questions about their history. And mom was just telling us the other day about how good the saints the old saints of God had been to them as a brand new convert newly converted couple who knew nothing about the ways of God. Just learning how to live the Christian life and the old saints would love on them and invite them to their home for simple little refreshments and meals and and just love on them.

And what a blessing and encouragement that was to them as a brand new Christian couple. And I thought, thank God for those old people I’ve never seen. I might have as an infant, but don’t remember at all in my life. I wanna hug them when I get to heaven for loving on my mom and dad and helping them define what it meant to to live the Christian life. And then in my own life as a boy growing up, I I just began to reminisce about some people that made a difference in my life.

When I was a kid, I mentioned earlier that I was in public school and my heart was everything but to be a Christian in those days. And yet, the old saints of God. I’ll never forget going to church, those old big strapping fishermen who pulled those nets and had powerful arms and shoulders. 1 of them would get up and he’d testify, and I can hear him testify right now. He would say, if there was no heaven and no hell and a hole in the ground was the end of it all.

You’ll get the picture. No heaven, no hell, and a hole in the ground. That’s the grave. That’s all there was to life. He said, I’d rather be a Christian than to have a 1000000 worlds.

And there was something about that statement that said something to a kid with rebellion in my heart. I better listen to what he’s saying. You know what he was doing? He was stirring me up. And I’m standing here preaching this Sunday morning because an old fisherman would just tell how good it was to to know God and love God.

He wasn’t browbeaten me and putting me down and telling me what to do. He was just telling how good it is to know God, to serve to live the Christian life. He to serve to live the Christian life. He’s stirring me up. There have been others across the years in my past that have lived those exemplary lives.

I saw Bob and Marcena Pelton here the other night when the choir was here. I’ll never forget the days when Marcena was going through the deep, dark days of cancer. And it looked like she would not live another day, and yet she would pull herself up out of her weekly and stand to her feet and give wonderful testimonies of the grace of God. You know what she was doing? She was stirring us up.

Amen? I look back there at Sarah Huff. And Sarah, how many times have I heard you talk about God’s handfuls on purpose that he left for you along the pathway of life. You know what Sarah’s done? She’s been one to stir us up.

Amen? And I want God to multiply the tribe of the Sarah Huffs, of the Marcina Pelton, of the Ed Roses. I want to be one that stirs up people to know God. You can be. You should be.

You can make others want to know Jesus. Amen? You’ll fling a craving on them. Somebody said this morning, a pastor friend of mine from Psalm 92 quoted these verses 12 to 15, the righteous flourish like a palm tree and go like grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord.

Amen? And they flourish in the courts of our God. You wanna you wanna flourish? Get in the house of God, in the courts of God. They still bear fruit in old age.

They’re ever full of sap and green to declare that the Lord is upright. He’s my rock and there’s no unrighteousness. Right. He’s my rock, and there’s no unrighteousness in him. I want us to stand together this morning.

I’m inviting pastor to come to close this service. Could you just bow your heads with me as he’s coming? If you’re struggling this morning, if you’re discouraged, you’re in the right place. God’s here to meet your need. Let him speak to your heart this morning as pastor closes.

We need the encouragement of one another. We need the stirring of one another. Part of the theme that I’ve mentioned over and over through this series is I need you and you need me. When we’re apart, we don’t have that working together to refine us, to encourage us, and stir us up. Oh, may the lord help us to realize the importance that we have in community together.

Let’s bow our heads. Father, there’s an enemy of our soul that’s doing everything that he can to try to keep us from making it to heaven. If it takes for him to his brother Parker shared to keep us out of the house of God where we can be stirred up to love and to good works, he’ll do it. If he can allow the root of bitterness to begin to spring up in our hearts, he’ll do it. If he can make it to where we isolate ourselves so that we’re not in contact one with another to where the edges of our lives can be refined, he’ll do it.

And so, Lord, I pray that you would help us today to see the importance that your word places, the premium that your word places on our togetherness, our being in fellowship together. Lord, I pray that you would help each one of us to know the ways in which we can stir our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, stir them up to love and to good works. In those times that we may be discouraged and we need the testimony of another who would lift us up and encourage our hearts when we need the reminder of that you have called us out of darkness into light so that we could then show forth the praises of God. And we need to be reminded of our calling to good works. Lord, I pray that you would stir us up afresh and anew in our hearts.

Thank you for your truth that you have shared with us today. And, Holy Spirit, apply it to our hearts in the ways that it needs to be applied to each individual person today. And we’ll praise you for it. And we ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Amen. You are dismissed.

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